Emphasis on Strength as Proxy for Health vs. Muscle? Emphasis on Strength as Proxy for Health vs. Muscle?

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Thread: Emphasis on Strength as Proxy for Health vs. Muscle?

  1. #1
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    Apr 2019
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    Default Emphasis on Strength as Proxy for Health vs. Muscle?

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    I have read the book and enjoy the Youtube videos. The straightforward programming and the philosophy & community has been a huge help to me and without it I think I would have ever made real progress on my physical fitness if I had not stumbled upon it on Art of Manliness.

    I am familiar with the maxim or motto that strength is the most important thing in life. My question is why isn't, say, skeletal muscle tissue (somewhat relative to overall weight) not the most important thing in life?

    I am an intermediate trainee, unlike most posters on this internet admittedly lazy at times & not especially tough mentally, and liking to indulge in food, not work out for various periods and vote for moderate Democrats - but I followed the program quite well during coronavirus May-August in my garage, and my maxes were B 245 / S 345 / D 420. At the end of that run of some modicum of discipline I was barefoot 5-10 190, eating so much that all the minimum macros any nutrition plan would suggest were met without thinking about it including 190 g+ protein.

    I began to feel fat in the thighs, double chinned, a little bellied and very slightly tittied - maybe even pink, clothes not fitting. The rate of progress on the lifts had really started to slow, and anytime we were away from the home gym at the lake or beach, when I came back the resets were big so I was spinning my wheels. I also had to take two breaks from some or most lifts due to tendonitis in my bicep and knee - I am 44.

    As a result of this, I more recently downloaded myfitness pal, and lost 17 lbs with disciplined dieting (lot easier than strength training, creating about a 500 cal deficit between food and exercise). Bodyfat scans and other measurements were done more than once, at both beginning and current, and suggested I had at least 152 lbs lean mass before the diet, and at least 150 after. We can debate the accuracy of these things but my point is that change was small relative to strength loss. (I still have significantly more lean mass than when I did not work out in mid 2010s, about 20-25 lbs, but I had lost some gains I made lifting some in college and that came back quickly).

    I continue to lift weights including the four major lifts and the chin-ups during the diet.

    At the 173 bw, all the physical appearance problems went away. I did lose a lot of strength. Those lifts, while not tested (feeling lazy due to 2000 kcal day diet), are around 215 lb B / 295 S / 345 DL, by my best estimate - I have not tested 1RM because I am quite tired. I think I could get those numbers up significantly before new weight gain began by eating maintenance for a week or so, but still far below my summer personal bests other than chin-ups)

    So I have lost this strength, but the amount of muscle loss is pretty low. 2 lbs of lean mass lost relative to 15 pounds of fat give or take.

    In addition to my own qualms, I got some inspiration by Mike Matthews who I saw on your Youtube. He told me in his own videos "Don't ever let fat people tell you you shouldn't be lean." It was almost as straightforward as "strength is the most important thing in life."

    Isn't keeping 150/152 lbs lean mass good enough (in percentage terms, even if you think it is not enough for someone 5-10)? Why should I care about deadlifting another 70 lbs? Isn't the muscle more important than the strength, when the strength is realistically already in the top 10% of US population for that bodyweight?) It is easier to play basketball with the kids, run when needed, and just generally not feel so heavy. Resting heart rate and other cardiovascular markers also improved.

    I am trying to decide whether to get back on the real strength progression, or just keep close to this weight if I can make some progressive overload progress, even if very slow.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    Isn't keeping 150/152 lbs lean mass good enough (in percentage terms, even if you think it is not enough for someone 5-10)? .
    It's fine with me. Enjoy your exercising.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    It's fine with me. Enjoy your exercising.
    Thank you for the response Rip and I know from watching the videos what you mean from this response. It really has been very beneficial to me but I'm just torn over the tradeoffs of pushing it further.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    I have read the book and enjoy the Youtube videos. The straightforward programming and the philosophy & community has been a huge help to me and without it I think I would have ever made real progress on my physical fitness if I had not stumbled upon it on Art of Manliness.

    I am familiar with the maxim or motto that strength is the most important thing in life. My question is why isn't, say, skeletal muscle tissue (somewhat relative to overall weight) not the most important thing in life?

    I am an intermediate trainee, unlike most posters on this internet admittedly lazy at times & not especially tough mentally, and liking to indulge in food, not work out for various periods and vote for moderate Democrats - but I followed the program quite well during coronavirus May-August in my garage, and my maxes were B 245 / S 345 / D 420. At the end of that run of some modicum of discipline I was barefoot 5-10 190, eating so much that all the minimum macros any nutrition plan would suggest were met without thinking about it including 190 g+ protein.

    I began to feel fat in the thighs, double chinned, a little bellied and very slightly tittied - maybe even pink, clothes not fitting. The rate of progress on the lifts had really started to slow, and anytime we were away from the home gym at the lake or beach, when I came back the resets were big so I was spinning my wheels. I also had to take two breaks from some or most lifts due to tendonitis in my bicep and knee - I am 44.

    As a result of this, I more recently downloaded myfitness pal, and lost 17 lbs with disciplined dieting (lot easier than strength training, creating about a 500 cal deficit between food and exercise). Bodyfat scans and other measurements were done more than once, at both beginning and current, and suggested I had at least 152 lbs lean mass before the diet, and at least 150 after. We can debate the accuracy of these things but my point is that change was small relative to strength loss. (I still have significantly more lean mass than when I did not work out in mid 2010s, about 20-25 lbs, but I had lost some gains I made lifting some in college and that came back quickly).

    I continue to lift weights including the four major lifts and the chin-ups during the diet.

    At the 173 bw, all the physical appearance problems went away. I did lose a lot of strength. Those lifts, while not tested (feeling lazy due to 2000 kcal day diet), are around 215 lb B / 295 S / 345 DL, by my best estimate - I have not tested 1RM because I am quite tired. I think I could get those numbers up significantly before new weight gain began by eating maintenance for a week or so, but still far below my summer personal bests other than chin-ups)

    So I have lost this strength, but the amount of muscle loss is pretty low. 2 lbs of lean mass lost relative to 15 pounds of fat give or take.

    In addition to my own qualms, I got some inspiration by Mike Matthews who I saw on your Youtube. He told me in his own videos "Don't ever let fat people tell you you shouldn't be lean." It was almost as straightforward as "strength is the most important thing in life."

    Isn't keeping 150/152 lbs lean mass good enough (in percentage terms, even if you think it is not enough for someone 5-10)? Why should I care about deadlifting another 70 lbs? Isn't the muscle more important than the strength, when the strength is realistically already in the top 10% of US population for that bodyweight?) It is easier to play basketball with the kids, run when needed, and just generally not feel so heavy. Resting heart rate and other cardiovascular markers also improved.

    I am trying to decide whether to get back on the real strength progression, or just keep close to this weight if I can make some progressive overload progress, even if very slow.
    You haven’t been doing this very long and you don’t see the big picture. You are not so old that you cannot continue to increase your physical strength for many years to come. A caloric surplus is recommended for most trainees during the NLP because this best facilitates lean body mass gains. Nobody has told you to stay fat all year round if you want to continue getting stronger in the long run.

    I continue to strength train even when I’m in a caloric deficit even though I know my chances of getting stronger are highly unlikely during these periods. Among many benefits, doing the heavy compound lifts helps me maintain muscle mass during a deficit and more importantly, the lifts make me less of a pussy and more of a capable, grown-ass man.

    If you actually want to get stronger (and you should because physical strength is the enemy of entropy) be in a caloric surplus. If you want to cut down efficiently, continue the heavy barbell lifts as they will help improve your submaximal performance and aid you in maintaining more muscle mass than you would without them. You can also become more skilled at the lifts and progress them despite the caloric deficit, especially given your level of experience.

    Trying to stay close a bodyweight of 173 isn’t a good strategy for becoming a better version of yourself over years and years of training. If you don’t appreciate the process of having to work hard at something for a long time then maybe just go do a booty bootcamp or some shit.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soule View Post
    You havenít been doing this very long and you donít see the big picture ... If you donít appreciate the process of having to work hard at something for a long time then maybe just go do a booty bootcamp or some shit.
    Thanks for the feedback Soule and these are good points. I think maybe a lack patience on my part is at play here as the key factor. On the booty bootcamp, I am open minded but I don't have that under advisement because the squats and deadlifts seemed to have worked there and I got some ass compliments from my wife's friend who is very attractive. She was asking what kind of fitness regimen I was on, I told her SSLP.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    Thanks for the feedback Soule and these are good points. I think maybe a lack patience on my part is at play here as the key factor. On the booty bootcamp, I am open minded but I don't have that under advisement because the squats and deadlifts seemed to have worked there and I got some ass compliments from my wife's friend who is very attractive. She was asking what kind of fitness regimen I was on, I told her SSLP.
    The longer you train, the bigger you get. The ladies like big men with big asses and strength training does all that without the use of silly, emasculating exercises.

    Iíve noticed a dramatic change in womenís behavior at the gym now that Iím a relatively lean 240, versus a razzzor abz 195 lb ďfunctional fitnessĒ asshat.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    My question is why isn't, say, skeletal muscle tissue (somewhat relative to overall weight) not the most important thing in life?
    As the pink man pipes so often, strength is the production of force against an external resistance. The very nature of your physical existence is predicated on this--you interact with the world (and the world with you) via forces.

    My understanding of "strength is the most important thing in life," boils down to exactly that: strength is the medium through which you exert influence in the world. That is, strength is the singular primitive in your language of influence (i.e., actions which can change the state of the physical world); it's the most important thing because all other things are expressed through it.

    I'm sure skeletal muscle tissue might save your life in a car crash or something, but the point is the thing that really matters in the end is how expressive your entity can be rather than the specific composition of your entity. Now, being a fat fuck limits that expressivity to a degree, so there's an argument for not being a fat fuck, so I contend that--at least in the limit--there's a lot to be said for not caring around a lot of extra fat.

    In fact, I think that's covered in the definition of strength anyway--the key point being it's a measure of ability to affect an external resistance and not a measure of your "raw muscle power"; i.e. it's a measure of expressivity.

    I'm a total dilletante and just pulled that out of my ass, though.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    Thanks for the feedback Soule and these are good points. I think maybe a lack patience on my part is at play here as the key factor. On the booty bootcamp, I am open minded but I don't have that under advisement because the squats and deadlifts seemed to have worked there and I got some ass compliments from my wife's friend who is very attractive. She was asking what kind of fitness regimen I was on, I told her SSLP.
    Threesome alert!

  9. #9
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    Aug 2020
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    Fredericton, NB, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jxhalt View Post
    Thanks for the feedback Soule and these are good points. I think maybe a lack patience on my part is at play here as the key factor. On the booty bootcamp, I am open minded but I don't have that under advisement because the squats and deadlifts seemed to have worked there and I got some ass compliments from my wife's friend who is very attractive. She was asking what kind of fitness regimen I was on, I told her SSLP.
    I argue that they should be called Low Bar Booty Blasters. It would increase the mass appeal of Starting Strength.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2016
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    Okehampton, Devon, UK
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    starting strength coach development program
    Shouldn't that be the "ass" appeal ?!

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